As with any city, fanbases are generally dedicated and true to their local teams. Nevertheless, not all cities can have representation in all four major sports leagues. The NBA is quite popular across the U.S. and the globe. Despite its popularity, some cities have never cheered on their own hometown team, much less sniff the euphoria of a championship. Some cities are large enough to sustain a team, while others may have residents longing for their own. Here are some cities that are deserving of an NBA team:
This was an obvious choice for me and the easiest to pick. Seattle is a vibrant city in the Pacific Northwest with a metro population of roughly four million. An emerald it is, and the charming metropolis already has the MLS champion Sounders, the NFL’s Seahawks and their 12th man, along with the MLB’s Mariners.
Seattle did have the NBA’s Supersonics until they relocated to Oklahoma City roughly a decade ago. The team won a championship in the late ‘70s, highlighting the franchise’s major accomplishment.
Kevin Durant was drafted by Seattle in addition, so imagine what it would have been like for KD to compete and try to bring this city a championship if he played more years there. Nevertheless, Seattle is a large metro area that can sustain a fanbase, and there has been evidence throughout the years that the city and its former players are passionate about having the NBA. Not only that, but Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has also been outspoken about bringing the NBA back to this glorious town. Who knows? Seattle is getting an NHL team in 2021, so it may be a matter of time before the NBA makes a reappearance.
Las Vegas, NV
Vegas is getting lit, but not in the reasons you may think. The NHL’s Golden Knights debuted in Sin City in 2017-18 only to make a Stanley Cup appearance. The Oakland Raiders are heading to town in Fall 2020 with a state-of-the-art stadium slated to host them. When it rains, why not make it pour by adding an NBA team to this entertainment mecca. Although that was a bit of dry humor considering Vegas’ desert atmosphere, adding an NBA team to the city would be anything but a dry move. Vegas’ presence alone is enough to attract visitors from all over the world.
Adding the NBA to a city that is finally getting some teams would just make their growing fanbase even happier. No doubt Vegas is better known for the multitude of entertainment options, but the city itself has a population of nearly 650K, while the entire metro has approximately 2.2 million. These numbers may be surprising to some, but Vegas’ permanent population makes it a decent-sized market for sports, thus the recent addition of NHL and NFL franchises. If the city can get three pro teams, you’ll have too much to do during your next visit to this desert haven.
Kansas City, MO
I ultimately chose KC over St. Louis because it is a bigger city and it’s not as close to other teams as STL is. Kansas City is a terrific market to add another team, especially since it’s in the middle of the country where not many NBA teams exist. Look no further than the NFL’s Chiefs to see how dedicated and passionate of a fanbase KC is. This Midwestern city already has the MLB and NFL, so adding the NBA is something that may naturally be brought up from time to time.
Look at it this way, if YOU lived in KC and were an NBA fan, where would you go to see an NBA game? OKC and Texas are pretty far and so are Chicago, Minneapolis, and Denver. Not only is adding a team to a town with nearly half a million people a plus in terms of potential revenue, it’s strategic because there are no other NBA teams within 300 miles.
Kentucky doesn’t have any pro teams right now, but it’s conveniently located so that people from other states could travel to see games should a pro team arise. Louisville is Kentucky’s largest city, with a population of 620K and the metro consisting of roughly 1.3 million people. It’s a shame a city this large does not have any major-league teams.
I mean, seeing Kentucky basketball fans across the state for UK and Louisville basketball is enough evidence that the state is basketball crazy. Sustainability is not something I would be concerned about when it comes to keeping an NBA team in Louisville. Though the proximity to the Indiana Pacers may be a bit concerning, there are already situations of other teams being very close to each other, such as the Bulls and Bucks, Kings and Warriors, etc.
I had to contemplate who I would choose for this last spot between Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Cincinnati. I ultimately chose Pittsburgh because of its location, its sports relevance, and the way it has thrived with sustaining sports teams despite only having a 300K population. You may see that 300K and think that Pittsburgh may be too small for the NBA, but consider that the Steel City has the NFL’s Steelers, the NHL’s Penguins, and the MLB’s Pirates.
This Eastern city is a major sports town, and the NBA would be a perfect fit in a city culture where teams are valued and admired so much by the fans. Think of the Steelers’ Terrible Towels. Pittsburgh getting its own NBA team could create another in-state rivalry with Philly just like in the NFL. If Pittsburgh can sustain the other teams, there is no reason to doubt the residents could admire and welcome the NBA.
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